10 ways to get the most from your agency

With budgets stripped back significantly in most sectors in 2011, marketing departments increasingly have to achieve more from less.

Companies use creative, digital, PR, event and other specialist agencies to help deliver innovative, lead generating marketing campaigns. But often these working relationships are fractious and doomed to failure because time hasn’t been taken to crystallize expectations, processes and procedures.

If you really want to foster a partner relationship with an agency, you need to create an environment and provide the resource and information to give the relationship the best chance of success.

Selecting and working with an agency doesn't have to be a leap of faith

Borne from experience, here is a top ten countdown of where to focus to drive improved collective performance.

1. Know what you want. Provide a written brief. There is no other way of definitively marshalling your thoughts. If you can’t, you have no right to expect an agency to deliver.

2. Run a pitch only if you have the work to award. Too many companies use the pitch process inappropriately either for self aggrandizement or to generate ideas that the in-house team can then implement. Worse still, pitches are used when the scope of business is not in proportion to the investment on the part of the agency.

3. Value their expertise. Just like you in your chosen marketplace, good agencies have honed their service offering, often have good contacts and have worked to develop enduring third party supply relationships to offer a full service.

4. Respect ‘the going rate’. Consequently, there is a financial value of investing that time to ensure your business is competently and diligently supported. Focusing too much on the price risks your credibility in the negotiation and your reputation in the longer term.

5. Commit. Sign NDAs and contracts and then ‘open up’.  Formalise the working procedure and then forget about them. Host the agency at your offices and lead immersion sessions to bring them up to speed. Few will understand your business and market better than you – despite their lofty claims.

6. Agree deliverables and metrics at the outset. Working towards commonly agreed goals and set objectives makes it easier to measure effectiveness after the event.

7. Nominate ‘go-to’ contacts who are always available to input, feedback comment, recommend and cajole client side contacts to get things to get done.

8. Build socializing time into your relationship. Teams that enjoy downtime together are more likely to work better.

9. Encourage and reward creative thinking.

10. Feedback on performance… and take agency feedback to improve the relationship.

Image: www.euphoriasmoothies.com

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6 responses to “10 ways to get the most from your agency

  1. Michael Stewart

    Great post
    Especially like the going rate point. Clients are paying for the investment and time you hav put into groing the level of expertise you have, not just on the time you spend on a job. It’s amazing how many people don’t respect a fair cost for a fair days works.

    • You’re right Michael. In so many trades, ours included, its assumed that a level of knowledge, understanding and competance comes without any previous investment. In legal, financial and private medical matters there is no disputing the rates, its a given. Why then, when it comes to having to think creatively and strategically about the positioning of a product, service or brand that could lead to it making £millions is it not the same?

  2. Another really good post – thanks Rene.

    It needs circulating because I don’t think some of my prospective customers appreciate some of the points you have made.

  3. An interesting post. I’d like to add that it’s important to give your agency time. I work agency side and put hours into thinking on behalf of my clients… thoroughly immersing myself into their project, getting excited about what I can do, only to find getting clients to commit to a meeting of a decent length is impossible. What’s the point in paying the money and then scrimping on the time?

    • Hi Rachel,
      Great you stopped by. I work agency side too and feel your pain! There will be a blog redressing the balance in the next few weeks!

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